Thursday, April 26, 2007

Karl Rove's quest to return to the glory days of the GOP lands him in trouble again

It should be clear to anyone with any grasp of history and government, especially after being briefed on the do's and don't's of being an appointed official, that once you get appointed it is illegal to use government offices and resources for obviously partisan political purposes. There are a lot of gray areas in this law but there are some bright lines you can't cross. If you get appointed to a position you just can't use the taxpayer's money to support political activities of your party.

Guess Karl Rove and 15 government agencies have forgotten this law in their efforts to obtain his "permanent Republican majority." Rove and other political operatives from the White House gave numerous briefings since coming to Washington in agency buildings to disscuss ways agencies could help Republican candidates.

The Washington Post:
Such coercion is prohibited under a federal law, known as the Hatch Act, meant to insulate virtually all federal workers from partisan politics. In addition to forbidding workplace pressures meant to influence an election outcome, the law bars the use of federal resources -- including office buildings, phones and computers -- for partisan purposes.

The administration maintains that the previously undisclosed meetings were appropriate. Those discussing the briefings on the record yesterday uniformly described them as merely "informational briefings about the political landscape." But House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who has been investigating the GSA briefing, said, "Politicization of departments and agencies is a serious issue. We need to know more about these and other briefings."

In the GSA briefing -- conducted like all the others by a deputy to chief White House political adviser Karl Rove -- two slides were presented showing 20 House Democrats targeted for defeat and several dozen vulnerable Republicans.

At its completion, GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan asked how GSA projects could be used to help "our candidates," according to half a dozen witnesses. The briefer, J. Scott Jennings, said that topic should be discussed "off-line," the witnesses said. Doan then replied, "Oh, good, at least as long as we are going to follow up," according to an account given by former GSA chief acquisition officer Emily Murphy to House investigators, according to a copy of the transcript.
The Hatch Act is from 1938 when many Republicans felt the WPA was being used to influence elections and elect Democrats. Senator Hatch, while a Democrat, wanted to remove the last traces of the original partisan nature of federal jobs and the law was passed with bipartisan support.

One of the first controversies of the current Bush administration was that it has been weakening and dismantling the federal civil service reforms that started in the 1880's and seeking a return to the political spoils system that prevailed before then. The American mass media did not cover that removing the new Homeland Security department from many civil service provisions was the cause of Democratic objections to getting it approved when they had originally proposed the department over the objections of the White House. This seemed to be only mentioned at the time and later in union newsletters and blogs - "Fear-Based Government: Bush Attacks Workers’ Freedoms Under National Security Guise" and by some House and Senate Democrats and totally ignored by corporate media.

This administration and Karl Rove would be happier in an 1870 - 1890 world, the glory days of the Republican party, and have been leading us in that direction from the beginning. They have not succeeded in that quest, a fact that Rove and other appointees forgot and may lead to their removal from office.

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